S.L. Farrell,
The Cloudmages #2:
Mage of Clouds

(DAW, 2004)

Meriel couldn't be less like her mother if she tried. Jenna, holder of the magical pebble known as Lamh Shabhala, is ruler of Inish Thuaidh, and a hard woman who has made hard choices in life. Though she dearly loves her daughter, she is prepared to make the same hard choices on Meriel's behalf. Meriel, on the other hand, just wants to be with her beloved Lucan. Above all, she does not want to be trained as a cloudmage like her mother. But Jenna has decided that Meriel must be trained, as she could possibly be the next holder of Lamh Shabhala. So off to Inishfeirm and the Order of the Cloud Mages Meriel, despite her protests, must go. But once there, she discovers that not even her mother knows everything, and friendship can be found in the unlikeliest of places.

Mage of Clouds is the sequel to Holder of Lightning and is the second book in S.L. Farrell's Celtic-flavored, multigenerational The Cloudmages series. Like the preceding book, Mage of Clouds is hard to put down. The story is intense and enthralling as Meriel moves from pampered court daughter through danger to her destiny.

In some ways, this book is easier to read than its predecessor. I frequently wanted to reach into the pages of Holder of Lightning and slap Jenna; Meriel is a much more likeable heroine. While she may make a wrong choice or two, she doesn't then compound it with the stubbornness and destructive behavior exhibited by her mother, something that Meriel later has occasion to witness firsthand.

I have only one minor complaint. The Celtic flavor of the series is quite heavy, including the Gaelic-inspired spellings of names. A pronunciation guide would be most welcome, as I found in some cases it was easier to just let the eye slide over a name rather than figure out how that combination of too many vowels -- or not enough! -- was supposed to be pronounced.

- Rambles
written by Laurie Thayer
published 30 October 2004

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